Have you ever sat on the side of a lake and looked at the reflections? How the water ripples and changes your reflection morphing it into another shape, seeming to change you? If you look at your reflection in a mirror that is 200 years old, how it bends and changes your reflection all while you yourself haven't changed at all? Or have you changed?
Sitting here reflecting on my blog, I am struck by how much our lives have changed since Peanut came into our lives. Change is not a bad thing, with it comes growth, and recognition that change is not a negative. Change is not something to fear, rather something one needs to embrace and allow themselves to surrender to the flow of the changes. We are afraid of change because we are afraid of the unknown. While we may not appear to have changed in our reflections, deep down inside we have changed. We have grown, physically as we age and spiritually as we realize that in the end while we like to think we are in charge, we are just pawns following the master plan of our Creator.
It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, I believe that. When Peanut was born I remember looking into her eyes seeing my reflection and telling my husband how it was amazing it was as if you could see my reflection in the clouds in the sky - as if I was looking into heaven. From that moment I knew my daughter was going to teach my things I could never dream of learning.
Now, as we approach her ninth birthday, when I look in my daughters eyes and I still see my reflection. The reflection without the clouds now, I still see myself - but a wiser self. One who has appreciated things in life that others my age have yet to understand. One who realizes what truly is important in life as opposed to things that just seem important now. I see how far my daughter has come so far, and the endless possibilities - the sky is the limit.
What has Peanut, my Daughter with Down syndrome taught me you ask, well let me tell you: Perseverance pays, never judge a book by its cover, never say never, if at first you don't succeed try try again, and of course be yourself because everyone else is taken.
How exactly does perseverance pay? Well, the old adage of "If at first you don't succeed try, try again" is so true. I remember laying on the floor next to Peanut positioning and repositioning her hands under her so that she could lift up her chest and head from the floor. I developed a tendon problem in my wrist because I spent so much time working with her, but you know what? I will never forget the day that I laid her on the floor on her belly and was getting down onto the floor when she put her hands under her and pushed herself up to look at me. She smiled the most amazing smile at me as she was telling me - look I did it! The other old adage of "if you fall off a horse get back up in the saddle again" is also so accurate. When Peanut was learning to walk, she fell all the time. Partly because she had a hard time seeing and partly because she was low tone. She would cry and cry, she hated physical therapy so much that she would hear the therapist come through the door she'd start crying. I remember on her first steps - after all those tears after many months wondering if my child would spend the rest of her life butt scooting around everywhere - she took a step and fell. That first step, also accompanied by the biggest smile ever - I DID IT MOM!.
Really, never say never? When Peanut was little we were told that she may not be able to do many things - all kinds of things....from walking, to running to bike riding, to learning. Well, never say never. She walks, bikes, runs and is learning a whole new language in a new country! Yes, a new country. We always thought we would never be able to move anywhere because of services we were getting, doctors we had aligned ourselves with. Peanut taught us never say never. We moved to the Mediterranean and are learning new languages, new culture and even though we were worried that she would have trouble learning a new language - she proved us wrong. She is learning the language and understands it pretty well.
Never judge a book by its cover, yeah right! I will never forget that day that the highly recommended physician while accompanied by his team of residents and medical students referred to my daughter as having "Downs disease". That statement changed my life forever. Right then, in that moment I decided that if they allow doctors to practice medicine using inaccurate medical terms to describe medical conditions, that I was going to get into medicine and show them a thing or two. I remember applying to the Physician assistant Program 9 months pregnant with child number 4, they wanted to know what I was thinking applying with a child with special needs and very pregnant. I was told after I completed my program that they couldn't believe i had made it through. I told them I learned from my daughter - never give up and don't judge a book by its cover.
Seriously, be yourself because everyone else is taken? Having a child with special needs is not easy, whether they look typical or not. I have found that there are quite a bit of people in this world who are not comfortable with others who may be different. This has been my motto for most of my adult life, I am finding through my Peanut that so many people are not true to themselves. They are what others want them to be - but in reality when we are just ourselves the world is such a better place. Besides, if you remove the pressure of keeping up with the Jones it allows you the time to realize that everything we have is a gift.
Reflections...change...I never dreamed in a million years that I would be sitting here in the land I now call my Home, reflecting on my personal gift, my Peanut. My child who taught me what is important in life. Who touches everyone she meets - not physically but spiritually, she manages to make them feel special. She knows when you are sad, she can sense things we can't. She is in touch with her true self. She doesn't care about what brands you're wearing, how much money you make or how fancy your jewelry is. She doesn't care how religious you are or aren't. She likes you for who you are. She doesn't care what others think. She is who she is, whether you like it or not. She is brave, amazing, beautiful, caring, sensitive, and will tell you exactly what she is thinking. She is not afraid of the unknown - she embraces it - trusting that something good will come. My Peanut has taught me the meaning of life.
What is the meaning of life? The meaning of life is simple.....Every breath, every minute is a gift. You have been given the very precious gift of life, use it wisely. Choose carefully what your words, actions and decisions will be. Long after you are gone you will be remembered for your words, actions and reactions. We only have one life. Be thankful.
So, have you looked at your reflection lately? When you look at your reflection, what do you see? Have you found the meaning of life yet?
Happy Birthday Peanut, you are truly one amazing gift that I am so grateful to have been the recipient of. I hope that I can one day be as amazing as you are.